Sila stood before the greatest opponent he had ever fought. Pumin was superior to him in all aspects, be it level, combat strength, stats, skills, and even experience. Sila had to wrack his brain, searching for a way to win the fight. Otherwise, he must at least drag on the fight for as long as possible. The so-called duels were just pretenses, which both Revin and he knew. Once someone won their duel, they would be free to join their teammates and help. In any case, the most decisive match was the one between Revin and Burapha.
Sila’s feet were on a soft cushion of sand. Pumin had previously decomposed the ground using the power of the Great Flow. Without stable footholds, Nine Sun-Melting-Fists, Six Moon-Grabbing-Claws, and even Twelve Celestial-Traveling-Steps couldn’t display their full potential. Coupled with Pumin’s Heaven’s Decree Sword Art that continued putting a mental strain on him, Sila knew his overall strength was greatly suppressed. Even when he was completely uninjured and full of qi energy, he could exert only twenty percent of his full fighting capability.
Sila no longer doubted how his father could manage to subdue a hundred sword dojo despite Pumin having just crippled himself and reformed his own cultivation back then. In front of the Sword Prodigy, who utilized the Heaven’s Decree Sword Art, no matter how great his opponents were, they wouldn’t be able to show their best.
The qi blades in Sila’s hands began to disintegrate. Pumin had yet to use Heaven’s Decree, but the art’s concept alone was threatening enough. The principle behind Heaven’s Decree was to redirect the Great Flow, which was profound energy existing in nature. In the game, said energy was classified as magic-type.
Anubis’s Soul-Eroding Magical Qi was expanded using Galaxy Eclipse, enclosing Sila and himself within a giant sphere.
Soul-Eroding Magical Qi had the property of gradually eroding intangible substances, including basic energies such as qi, psychic, and magic power. The eroded power would disintegrate and become a part of nature. The scary part was that the eroded power would never recover, with the exception of beings who had attained the essence of magic. Such beings could absorb mana in nature and utilize it.
Among the players who knew about the essence of magic, Sila was one of the few talented ones who had actually received enlightenment regarding it and could use the essence. There was a problem, however. He had always been heavily reliant on using his own magic power. Utilizing ambient mana was a foreign concept for him, though not completely. In fact, the art he inherited from Pumin, the Great Flow, was technically an art that involved using ambient mana to bend reality.
Sila felt his special points slowly dispersing. The longer the duel dragged on, the worse his situation would get. On the other hand, Pumin, who could proficiently borrow mana, would only become more formidable.
Sila tried borrowing the power from the Great Flow. However, it didn’t work. Mana seemed to have a will. It refused to listen to him, and he didn’t understand why. Mana was abundant in the air. He could feel it, so why couldn’t he use it?
“It’s useless, my pertinacious master.” Zarnak revealed the answer, “Anubis’ Union Percentage is higher than yours. Magic power and magic-types pay close attention to the differences in levels. If he doesn’t use it, then it’s fine. However, if he wills it, there is no way you can borrow even a measly amount of mana in his presence.”
Mana, also known as the power of nature, was necessary for unleashing the might of Heaven’s Decree Sword Art. This meant Sila wouldn’t be able to use Heaven’s Decree against an opponent who possessed a higher Unison Percentage than him. This was a vital piece of information to know.
“Since you don’t plan to escape, your chance of victory is quite slim, I must say.”
Zarnak was right. Against such a formidable foe, the best and logical course of action should be escaping. Nevertheless, Sila never chose an easy path. Even if stepping back was easier, he would still choose to take a step forward, pushing himself into a dangerous corner. He did that literally. At first he had only been in Heaven’s Decree’s effective range, but now he was also within Pumin’s reach.
No words were needed between profound practitioners. Pumin’s lips curved up satisfyingly. Sila witnessed the instant when rivers of mana flowed into Pumin’s sand sword. It was a breathtaking scene. For Sila, however, he didn’t have the luxury to admire the mesmerizing sight even for a split of a second.
Heaven’s Decree — Fifth Sword Style, Triple Lightning Bolts.
The attack’s blinding light was like a flash of lightning on a day with a clear sky. The slash split from one to three. Lightning bolts rarely hit the same place twice in quick succession, but Heaven’s Decree Sword Art disregarded probability. Three lightning blades darted at Sila from different angles. It was a killing move that combined three strikes into one blow. Used by the Sword Prodigy, the move seemed to be able to shave off three lives from a single target.
Formless Martial God — Nameless Spirit.
Sila’s body bent and turned unnaturally. He evaded the three strikes altogether at a distance that should’ve made dodging impossible. His bodily movements were completely strange to the eyes.
Many martial artists could predict their opponent’s future movements by reading the flexing and contracting of muscles. However, what Sila had just done defied common sense. His actions indicated stepping back, but he bent his upper body instead.
Being reminded by Zarnak, Sila got an idea. Since he currently couldn’t rely on most of his martial arts, he should rely more on in-game skills. Magical qi was more qi than magic power, so it should be weak against magic skills.
Fortunately, magic was the only energy type for which Sila had acquired the special boost—Art of Magic.
Usually, the results of magic spells were fixed and inflexible. They also disregarded laws of physics. For example, Fire Arrow, a spell that had 100 attack power and could fly for 50 meters, would vanish the moment it passed the 50 meter mark. Also, regardless of the distance between the spell caster and the target, it would deal exactly 100 attack power before taking the target’s defense into account.
With Sila’s Art of Magic, however, the distance became a factor to determine the amount of damage that his spell could deal. If he were to cast Fire Arrow, the spell would materialize an arrow with 300 attack power, but the said damage would decrease in proportion to the distance between him and a target. If it hit the target standing at the edge of the spell’s effective range, its attack power would fall to about 10.
Sila intended to depend on Formless Martial God, which had a low power consumption rate, to stay near Pumin. The martial art lacked decisive attack power though, so he had to rely upon his magic skills to win against Anubis, who was ultimately classified as a qi-type monster.
Sila circulated Element-Changing Nightmare Magical Qi throughout his body, shrouding his body with a layer of black aura. The skill had a mixture of magic power, so it got partially enhanced by his Art of Magic.
Stating the spell’s name was a must for magic-type skills. Unexpectedly, Artifact Manifestation had a great synergy effect with Sila’s Art of Magic. Since the artifact was technically manifested near him, he would always obtain an artifact that was three times more powerful than the spell would normally produce.
Seven magical elements exploded and solidified, transforming into a jet black axe. Its size was so large that it didn’t seem like a weapon designed to be used by humans.
Sila had intended to summon a sword, so the spell’s result startled him. He had gotten too close to Pumin though. It wasn’t a distance suitable to swing an axe. Having no choice, he had to step back before he could swing it.
It was when the axe had finished solidifying that Sila discovered yet another surprise. The axe was so heavy that he could hardly lift it up. He had to exert every ounce of his arm strength plus use Formless Soldier in order to swing it once.
The opportunity to strike was long gone. While Sila wasted time having difficulty swinging the axe, Pumin had already moved. He jumped backward to secure some distance.
The axe crashed onto the ground with immense force, shaking it. The nearby buildings even collapsed due to the aftershock. A large crater, at least 500 meters in radius, appeared on the ground. The impact was beyond imagination. Not only Pumin, but even Sila himself was also at a loss for words.
“Why didn’t a sword come out?” Sila wondered.
Again, it was Zarnak who unraveled the mystery. “The artifact produced by Artifact Manifestation will always correspond to the type and amount of magic power spent creating it. You compressed seven elements of magic power with the dark element as its core, so the spell determined that you desired a heavy weapon that focused on attack power, like an axe.”
Artifacts created from Artifact Manifestation were considered items, so a system inspection was possible.
(S) Thousand Ruptures Axe
+ Increase physical attack points by 10,000,000.
+ Completely ignores defense, including energy reinforcement.
- You can’t strengthen its attack power, including by using energy reinforcement.
*Its attack power is fixed. The damage that it delivers will not be higher or lower than the aforementioned value.
- The wielder will always feel that it is too heavy to wield no matter how strong they are.
A weapon with ten million attack power!! Sila doubted his eyes. The highest value he had seen so far from weapons was around 10,000—and that already included A and S grade weapons. Well, to compensate for its ridiculous amount of attack power, the Thousand Ruptures Axe came with the inability to be affected by energy reinforcement. Sila could clad it with all of his special points but nothing would come out of it.
Its greater disturbing aspect was its absurd weight. Its weight was so heavy that Sila’s arm muscles spasmed after just a single swing. Zarnak further explained that using qi to strengthen the arms would be useless since its weight would increase accordingly. The axe always adjusted its weight to make whoever was holding it feel that it was too heavy.
Pumin observed Sila and the axe. “What a terrifying weapon. Its attack power is at the level of gods living in the Monster Realm. In this New World, no monsters will survive if hit by it once or twice. Well, you can’t hope to hit anyone with that level of speed.”
Sila dropped the axe on the ground. “This won’t do. Let me try something different.”
“Artifact Manifestation.” Sila compressed the same amount of magic power, this time selecting the Magical Arrow form. A short, illuminating arrow appeared on his hand. Its length was shorter than ordinary arrows by half. Its arrowhead seemed to be made of rare minerals and jewels, looking quite ornamental.
(S) Seven Luminaries Arrow
+ Increase magical attack points by 7,000.
* Although the Seven Luminaries Arrow is tangible, it deals magical damage instead of physical one.
* When the Seven Luminaries Arrow hits a target, the target will receive seven consecutive strikes, cycling through the elements. The attacks will be of the earth, water, wind, fire, lightning, ice, and dark elements respectively.
- The Seven Luminaries Arrow will be negated when it comes into contact with any spell of the light element, even if it is of the lowest tier.
- During the day, the Seven Luminaries Arrow will lose half of its power.
Sila was delighted by the result. The Seven Luminaries Arrow quickly ranked among one of his favorite hidden weapons. Its size and shape were similar to suntetsu.
He slipped it into his sleeve, ready to fire it once the timing was right. Anubis was a qi-type monster while the time in Inverse Zhongsuyuan City was forever night, so he didn’t have to worry about the Seven Luminaries Arrow’s weaknesses.
Pumin quit waiting, refusing to give Sila more time to prepare. Logically speaking, under the effect of his Soul-Eroding Magical Qi, the longer the fight dragged on, the more advantageous the fight would become for him. However, his intuition warned him otherwise.
Heaven’s Decree — Fourth Sword Style, Sword Storm.
A stormy wind blew. Pumin’s sand sword connected to the Great Flow, changing mana into wind blades. They violently circled around Sila, who was about to try out another form of Artifact Manifestation.
Since he was already halfway done compressing his magic power, Sila decided to risk it. He didn’t stop what he was doing but instead accelerated the process.
‘Give me something good!’
Sila was in a hurry, so the amount of magic power he input into the spell was higher than what he had intended. As a random element was used for the core, a particular monster emerged and howled.
The magical monster had the same physical appearance as a human’s but was twice or thrice the size. Looking closely, Sila thought its looks resembled Karum, so it was likely to be a member of the giant race, though most likely a different kind within the same race.
Berserker, Level 1,000 Lord Rank, has appeared.
The system’s notification made Sila realize that its level was even higher than his.
For the record, the Berserker was a kind of giant that had already gone extinct. Sila’s Artifact Manifestation hadn’t revived the creature, just recreated its form and characteristics. The reason for its extinction was due to its frenzied nature. In any battle, they always fought in a trance-like fury, attacking anyone in its sight except its lord.
The Berserker’s racial qi was Berserk Sky-Cutting Magical Qi, which would constantly generate wind blades out of its wounds. The more severe the injury, the more powerful the generated blades.
Additionally, the Berserker possessed a passive racial skill known as Fiendish Moment, which delayed any form of damage done to it by a minute. Thus, even when it took an attack that could take its life, its death would be delayed and it would continue fighting for another minute.
The Berserker rushed at Pumin without minding the buzzing cyclone surrounding it and Sila. It recklessly broke through the sharp blades made of wind, getting numerous scars on its body as a result. No matter how Pumin attacked it, it didn’t care. It literally threw its life at Pumin for the sake of delivering one strike after another.
Pumin mercilessly waved his sword through the Berserker’s neck. However, instead of seeing its head flying away, only a large scar appeared around his neck. Its maddening qi poured out from said scar, forming into numerous wind blades. They chopped Pumin’s sand sword into pieces as easily as a warm knife cutting through butter.
Sila couldn’t help but be amazed. He had to put so much effort just to cause some cracks on Pumin’s sword, which was formed by mana. On the other hand, the Berserker could break it effortlessly.
Sila had recovered a bit of his magic power. He opened his palm, activating Artifact Manifestation yet another time, this time selecting the last form.
A small ring box soon appeared on his palm. Its size was similar to all of the other item boxes that Sila had seen in the game. Imprinted on the front side of the box was a pair of wings, with one looking angelic and the other looking demonic.
(S) Pandora’s Box.
Will a Goddess’ smile emerge, or will it be a punishment from demons?
The item description was short and practically useless. It didn’t explain anything. Sila hesitated over what his next course of action should be.
Noticing Sila doing something, Pumin avoided the Berserker and sent a qi blade to knock the box from Sila’s hand. The box rolled on the ground. Pumin sent another qi wave to send it flying out of sight. At the same time, using his magical qi, he trapped the Berserker within a sandpit.
The duel continued in that manner.
Concurrently, the flying box flew and smacked against a certain someone.
“Ouch!” Being an expert, one shouldn’t feel pain so easily. However, the man still let out a groan out of habit.
“I have been lost for two days. Where is the exit? And who dares to throw things at this handsome one?” The Deity Lomyok exclaimed as he inspected the object that had hit his head.
Reading the box’s description, Lomyok smiled, the temper from just moments ago gone as if it had never existed. “Aha~! I have been on a lucky streak lately. Undoubtedly, this box will bring me another fortune.”
Lomyok slowly opened the lid of the box. It let out a silent *click* sound, then his vision turned dark.
In fact, this phenomenon didn’t only occur to him. All beings in Monster Soul were experiencing the same thing.